Kathleen M. Kelley can trace her love for England—and her interest in British royals—to one pivotal event in her childhood: the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. Newspapers and magazines were full of splendid pictures and stories about the lovely 27-year-old queen and her handsome husband, as well as the extensive pomp and pageantry surrounding the event. Fascinated, Kathleen drank it all in.
She grew up in southern New Jersey, a down-to-earth place far removed from royalty of any kind. She started writing at a young age, often about the monarchs of long ago who exerted a fascinating pull on her imagination. Her life was to take many twists and turns, the first of which led her to move to California at the age of 21. There she received both her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English literature from San Jose State and San Francisco State, respectively, before marrying and gradually making her way back east. Somewhat improbably, she found herself with a career in accounting, a profession that suited her temperament even though it certainly was not what she had originally intended.
And yet, despite dusty ledgers and (metaphorical) green eye-shades, her interest in England and its history, language and literature remained. At 34, she took the first of many trips to Britain to experience its beauty and culture first-hand. At about the same time, she began reading Thomas B. Costain’s four books on the Plantagenets, the family that ruled England for over 300 years. When she reached the final book in the series, The Last Plantagenets, she expected to find a thorough-going denunciation of that treacherous villain, Richard III. Wasn’t that what she had learned in Shakespeare? Instead, she found an altogether different depiction. She was Intrigued and found herself doing further research on the subject. Was it possible Shakespeare had been wrong?
That was when The Protector began. She did not set out to rehabilitate Richard’s reputation. Instead, she wanted to tell the story of a man who at his core was decent and honorable but who found himself in a terrible situation for which all of the possible solutions were almost equally horrendous. It took several years to finish it, and when she did, she set it aside for the next 34 years, almost forgetting that she had written it. It wasn’t until the buried remains of Richard III were unearthed in 2012 that she remembered it, got it out of its box and read it through. Perhaps it deserved to see the light of day, she thought. Perhaps she could and should share it with others. And so she did.
Now retired, Kathleen has recently completed a prequel to The Protector, titled The Neville Inheritance, and is working on an as-yet-untitled sequel which will tell the final chapter of Richard’s life, thus completing her trilogy. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with John, her husband of more than fifty years.